Poll shows pro-Europeans could win an EU referendum


9:10 am - November 27th 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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A ComRes poll for the Independent today finds that Britons are roughly divided on whether Britain should remain a full member of the EU.

Some 46% agree, while 45% disagree.

The poll also found that a majority of people (54%) were OK with Britain leaving the EU provided it could keep its close trade relationship with the bloc.

Clearly, economic concern then has the potential to overshadow other concerns about the EU.

If businesses could persuade people that leaving would harm trade and jobs – as I’ve been saying – the referendum could be won. Especially since the sceptics are only level pegging with those who want to stay within the EU.

Another problem for Eurosceptics: those aged 18-34 are most likely (71%) to want to stay within the EU, compared to only 34% of those aged 65 and over. Time is not on their side.

In related news, the Daily Telegraph reveals that senior UKIP members have had talks with eight Tory MPs about defecting. Chances of them defecting: I suspect highly low.

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Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Reader comments


1. GenialityOfEvil

How likely are pro-europeans to turn out for a referendum compared with anti-europeans though?

The article in the Inde doesn’t mention exactly what the question was.

As such it’s a bit of a meaningless figure.

Would love to believe it is true, but who knows?

I wouldn’t call their high levels of support among over-65s a problem for the eurosceptics. Over-65s are twice as likely to vote in elections as those aged 18 to 24, and the same may be true in referenda.

#1

May not be very. The article doesn’t say what question was asked – or anyhting about polling method. But it does say that young people were more in favour while old people were more against EU membership.

As such the trend for young people to not vote may play a part in any result.

I think the heading should be about “pro EU side” rather than “pro Europeans”. Europe is a continent, and it is quite hard to be for or against it. It’s the political structure of EU that is heading towards a federal state which makes people think twice.

Another problem for Eurosceptics: those aged 18-34 are most likely (71%) to want to stay within the EU, compared to only 34% of those aged 65 and over. Time is not on their side.

Or, put another way, when people get older, they become more sceptic towards EU, in which case you should say that time works for eurosceptics…

Myself, I like the idea of a European Union as a free trade area. The idea about a United States of Europe is less appealing. Or perhaps it will be Union of European Democratic States, or even Commonwealth of Independent Countries. Or whatever. But the push from above seems to be faster than for what people are ready.

“highly low”

so that’s definitely maybe then?

pjt

It’s an interesting point actually, about older people voting.

The difference in voting intentions between old and young people are a difficult to define as there tend to be two phenomenon.

1 – as you rightly suggest – is that as people grow old they may gravitate to particular views.
2 – as the article rightly suggests – is that generations see the world differently and carry that throughout life.

The extent of either is of course only possible to study in retrospect, and so can’t easilly be predicted (other than that some combination of the two is probably real).

I think the heading should be about “pro EU side” rather than “pro Europeans”. Europe is a continent, and it is quite hard to be for or against it.

British anti-Europeans would like Britain to minimise its dealings with the countries that make up mainland Europe. British pro-Europeans wouldn’t.

As a result, the vast majority of British anti-Europeans wish that Britain would leave the EU, and the vast majority of British pro-Europeans do not.

Some anti-Europeans claim to be “pro-European” in the sense that they’re happy for mainland Europe to exist but don’t want to have anything to do with it. There are some obvious analogies which highlight why this is a really silly claim to make.

There are possibly some people who want Britain to maximise its engagement with mainland Europe and who would nonetheless still rather leave the EU, but they are few and far between.

It’s the political structure of EU that is heading towards a federal state which makes people think twice.

If by “heading towards a federal state” you mean “something that not even the most paranoid lunatic could view as anything even vaguely close to a federal state or moving in that directions”, then yes, absolutely.

9. Man on Clapham Omnibus

There are just to many polls in this country which cause a burden on our society in my view.

In or out isn’t really a fair question though.
I would prefer to stay in, but enlargement up to 27 countries now has made it something else altogether to what it was. All the Balkan states are being lined up to become members, Turkey was proposed … so why not some of Turkey’s neighbours too? It’s all got too big and bloated IMO.

Number 8 the exact kind of nutter that would have had us in the Euro.

If by “heading towards a federal state” you mean “something that not even the most paranoid lunatic could view as anything even vaguely close to a federal state or moving in that directions”, then yes, absolutely.

So you think this isn’t what the European technocratic elite are aiming for? Certainly not what Barroso, Van Rompuy and Merkel have been saying….

13. margin4error

Damon

Why does adding more member countries make it too big and bloated?

I ask primarilly because the point of the EU is that it is big. Along with preventing war in Europe, it aims to create a large enough single market to allow European countries to remain competitive in a globalised world of much bigger players than each of us is alone.

So I’m not sure how adding more countries significantly changes the nature of its aims and character. Of course decision making can become harder with more countries because we all insist on holding vetos on things. The solution to that is fewer vetoes and simplified decision-making structures. But that has to be balanced against the legitimacy people place in their own nation states to rule over them them. Push too far and countries will decide a weaker economy is a price worth paying to take back control of particular policies.

As for what Europe eventually becomes – That will be guided by ever changing opinion. Europe is variously defined by being (historically speaking) the christian part of the world, the white part of the world, the pre-roman celtic dominated world – the Roman dominated parts of the world, the bit of the world that ran the empires, and so on and so forth.

More childish, fallacious and evidence-free stereotyping from john ‘Because I say so’ b.

I actively campaigned in the UK’s referendum in 1975 on whether to continue with, as then, EEC membership and was an official observer in the county’s count. Just over 67pc of voters nation-wide backed continued membership.

Unsurprisingly, in the course of that campaign – which at one moment included a duel with the local MP, a fanatical Europhobe, using loudspeakers on cars – we encountered many for and against Britain’s membership of the EEC. It has to be acknowledged that some in both camps are fanatics with whom reasoned dialogue is near impossible.

”Why does adding more member countries make it too big and bloated?”
Actually I don’t really know margin4error. Much of the detail is above my understanding. But I wonder if we have to be in such a close political and economic union with countries so far to the east of us.
Maybe it is necessary, but where do you draw the line?
Can Belarus and Ukraine also join?

17. Philip Denner

I hope and believe this is true. I would like also to see the Left making the point that the EU, which is currently leaning toward neo-liberal economics can be moved back to one in which policies help to provide well paid jobs for all by fighting the power of international capital to force individual states to under-tax and underpay to attract investment. Europe is powerful enough to exert these pressures but the UK outside the EU would be powerless to protect itself and its people. Suitably led it cold also force its banks only to undertake socially and economically beneficial activity.

I think it would be very very difficult for the outers to win a referendum. Their problem is that they do not have a position they can unite around. There are at least three scenarios being put forward. First, a Norwegian or Swiss model which maintains the benefit of membership of the Single Market, but loosens other ties. The disadvantage for some outers is that this requires continuing with free movement of labour (one of the pillars of the SM). Second, a completely new arrangement beween the UK and the EU which would be a Single Market lite – without free movement. The disadvantage is that it is inconceivable that the EU would agree (and whether it would, or not, would not be known at a referendum). Third, complete detachment from the EU with a reliance on new trade treaties and WTO rules to maintain trade with the EU. The difficulty here is that it would be a complete leap in the dark, and could take years to bring to maturity. Even UKIP’s policy seems to be to remain in EFTA but have no immigration from the EU. Not a feasible policy. To win any EU referendum, the outers would have to change the status quo. To win, that change must demonstrate a future that is clear, unambiguous, and unthreatening. The outers have not yet got such a position.

19. Richard Carey

As someone wholly in favour of independence from the EU, I am well aware of the lack of intelligent debate on the issue of how we would extricate ourselves. For one thing, the mechanism for leaving is clearly spelled out in the Lisbon Treaty, art. 50, so whenever you hear a politician going on about leaving, and not mentioning article 50, then it’s fair to speculate they haven’t thought it through.

Polls say very little about a referendum result, especially as the actual question is not set. I would not count any electoral chickens until they were hatched. The anti-independence movement will have huge resources and will use fear to browbeat the public into supporting Brussels, all the while claiming ‘we must continue to reform the CAP etc’.

One thing’s for sure; a referendum will be very divisive.

What is truly amazing is that anyone could be pro-EU!…

After the refusal to cut the EU budget in a time of austerity…after the EU’s in-house auditors won’t sign off the accounts for 18 successive years…after masses of unnecessary regulation by grossly undemocratic enactment…

Yet Sunny et al parrot a pro-EU line…Presumably because they believe it will advance their vision of a highly regulated society…

If you are pro-EU, you are anti-democracy. You believe that a committee of technocrats knows best, and that the centre can judge more accurately what ‘the regions’ need than the regions can themselves. Yes, there’s an EU parliament, but it is consultative; and the key and main decisions are made without any democratic mandate.

“..provided it could keep its close trade relationship with the bloc.”

It’s a ridiculous question – it basically means, ‘would you like to leave the EU, while remaining a member of the EU’.

UKIP have been peddling the idea that we could leave the EU while retaining its advantages for years. It’s a lie that would soon be debunked in any referendum campaign.

Leaving the EU would be an utter disaster for Britain, unless you’d like to live in something that would be like Franco’s Spain without the good bits. We already had a referendum and voted, once and for all, to be part of a united Europe. That should be enough.

Yes, I voted in the 1975 referendum.

At the start of the campaign, the opinion polls were showing a two thirds majority for withdrawal.

When it came to the vote, there was a two-thirds majority for staying in.

How could such a thing happen in a future referendum? Oh I dunno, how about Nissan/Honda/Toyota or A N Other car manufacturer saying “not that we’d leave the UK, but yes, we’re looking at a manufacturing presence in Valencia/Lisbon/Milan/Prague”.

Of course, if any major player in the City did likewise, that would put the lid on it.

It couldn’t happen? Why d’you think Nissan, Honda, Toyota and the rest set up in the UK?

In 1975 what swung the vote was that business, and therefore all the money, was behind staying in. It was sold as being in everyone’s interest to vote Yes.

It will be the same whenever the next referendum comes.

Yes, we voted to stay in the EU, so why do we need another vote. Even though i have some reservations about the EU, i still think we are better off in than out.

My children like many others have grown up being part of Europe. They learnt German at school. They don’t remember a time when we weren’t part of Europe. I would suggest that those who want us to leave are over sixty.

“Leaving the EU would be an utter disaster for Britain, unless you’d like to live in something that would be like Franco’s Spain without the good bits. We already had a referendum and voted, once and for all, to be part of a united Europe. That should be enough.”

Fanatic liar.

25. Richard Carey

An intelligent, rational debate on Britain’s EU membership has been prevented by those in favour refusing to make a positive case for ‘ever closer union’, because they don’t believe many people would support it, if stated clearly. This is not the case in other countries. Angela Merkel, for instance, recently said the following:

“Of course the European Commission will one day become a government, the EU council a second chamber and the European Parliament will have more powers.”

Would any of the pro-Brussels / anti-independence commenters here like to make the argument in favour of this? In other words, to make an honest case for a federal union, governed by the Commission?

Whatever the question on a referendum, if people were given the choice between Merkel’s vision, which is the standard, continental view, and Britain as a self-governing, independent nation state, I think the pro-independence side would win.

But the anti-independence lobby usually stick to fear mongering, e.g. Chris @21 “Leaving the EU would be an utter disaster for Britain”. John B @8 goes further, and claims that Merkel’s opinion does not exist outside paranoid fantasy.

TF @ 22:

“Why d’you think Nissan, Honda, Toyota and the rest set up in the UK?”

Errr…the skills base, costs, grants etc??

OK, also access to the EU’s single market (about which you lefties whinge when Amazon etc use it legally to minimise tax!).

The fundamental point about the EU is its democratic deficit. No matter how (un)worthy its decisions they should be approved democraticly – and not by an unelected committee of technocrats.

You simply cannot be a democrat and be pro-EU! (Though you can be pro-Europe[an], and in favour of pan-European cooperation, but be anti-EU.)

“But the anti-independence lobby usually stick to fear mongering, e.g. Chris @21 “Leaving the EU would be an utter disaster for Britain”. John B @8 goes further, and claims that Merkel’s opinion does not exist outside paranoid fantasy.”

Because they are scum seeking a sense of personally power by identifying with something in the external, truth is not relevant to these people, there minds long past the point of sense.

“If businesses could persuade people that leaving would harm trade and jobs ”

Then that would be a sure way to lose a referendum. It is a negative message about fear that almost says ‘if you don’t vote the way we want, the teddy gets it’.

It would be countered on day 1 by the euro-sceptics, who would probably win that debate (the businessmen that fund ukip would simply point out that they were succesful businessmen who didn’t need the EU). That would leave the pro-europeans with messages that would increasingly look like scaremongering.

What would win the referendum is a positive campaign that says what the benefits of the EU are, quantifies this in cash terms to the man/women in the street, and force the euro-sceptics onto the defensive.

29. Richard Carey

@ 28 planeshift,

“What would win the referendum is a positive campaign that says what the benefits of the EU are, quantifies this in cash terms to the man/women in the street, and force the euro-sceptics onto the defensive.

I urge you to try! Quantifying the costs/benefits of membership will make the case for leaving, not staying.

“Yes, we voted to stay in the EU, so why do we need another vote.”

Er, who is ‘we’? It was in 1974, 38 years ago. I didn’t have a vote on it and nor did tens of millions of other current adults.

Eu como cidadão da Europa quero o Reino Unido dentro do espaço Europeu e no centro das decisões europeias a Europa precisa do Reino Unido e o Reino Unido precisa da Europa a sociadade civil Britanica que tomar uma posição verdadeira no sentido da construção europeia

Lamia: for the record, I made a logical argument; you followed up with abuse.

TONE: There is no democratic deficit in the EU, that is a bizarre myth. All EU decisions are approved by the Parliament (democratically elected) and Council of Ministers (representatives of democratically elected governments). Commissioners aren’t directly elected but rather chosen by members of the democratic institutions – in the same way as cabinet ministers are, in every country I can think of.

I don’t think that I am that different from most people in Britain in how I traditionally viewed UK membership of the EU. That is I never gave it much thought but I am now more sceptical about the claims made in favour of membership. However, I like most people I am open to persuasion ether way. What poisons the well of debate are the zealots on both sides with the integrationists well in front with their smearing, scaremongering and blatant propaganda.

There are valid arguments on both sides but we invariably do not hear them because they are drowned out by smearing of opponents and scaremongering in place of rational arguments. Go to any Guardian EU article and below the line in place of a positive case for the union one only gets hysterical reactions. The pro people really are going to have to stop smearing anyone who disagrees with their worldview or they will lose any referendum.

Save us from the EU has prevented war tripe. War in WE effectively meant a German France conflict. Prevent that and one prevents war. After WW2 the allies specifically removed German capacity to wage war. One can’t in the modern era wage war without oil. All the German synthetic oil capacity had deliberately been destroyed by allied bombing raids. After WW2 we specifically prevented Germany from having major oil firms. It is no coincidence that the majors are in the UK, US and France, that was design. Moreover, German rearmament and conflict with France was impossible with the US and British armies stationed in Germany. The absence of WE armed conflict has bugger all to do with the EU.

What I find strange is those on the new left who in any other context are generally hostile to the interests of business, and certainly opposed to business lobbying. Suddenly when the question is about the UK EU membership are actually in favour of business interests and lobbying. Truly bizarre or hypocritical take your pick.

Only those with closed minds can truly say with certainty how they would vote in a future referendum when they do not know the question or what is on offer.

Which brings us to the ridiculous spectacle of people claiming to know for certain how a future EU would react should the UK vote to withdraw. The one thing we do know about the EU and EU summits is they can’t agree on much. No one knows what kind of a relationship some unknown EU officials and unknown EU member politicians at some unspecified date in the future will want to forge with the UK should they leave. Anyone who claims to know with certainty are lying or indulging in propaganda. We do not know so stick to the positive case rather than the scaremongering about how terrible life would be outside of the EU.

Here is the strange thing about the single market. I am very much in favour of free trade, except when it comes to animals but that is beside the point. The so-called single market has been a major disappointment. For most economic activity that takes place in members economies the single market effectively does not exist. The EU standardisation regulations and directives that people complain about, therefore has effectively bugger all to do with cross-border trade and everything to do with local trade. The real surprise is there has been zero discernible benefits attributable to the single market on the growth figures. Some people may have benefited but the entire economy has not.

I am open to persuasion so lets hear the positive case without the scaremongering and without hiding behind the coat tails of business.

34. Chaise Guevara

@ 33 Richard W

You’re right that the debate is coloured by hysteria on both sides, but you do then rather undermine that by going on a rant against one side only.

Cards on the table: I have problems with the EU, but would rather be in than out. However, the most propaganda I’ve come across is anti-EU stuff: fictional claims about how much it costs us (generally created by ignoring the benefits), declarations that Brussels is enforcing some heavy-handed ban or another that never seems to materialise, all the way up to histrionics about how “We sacrificed millions to stop a German invasion and now they’ve conquered us anyway”.

And yes, there’s crap on the other side too, pretty much a mirror image: overblown claims of financial benefits, exaggerations of social benefits, and accusations that anyone who wants out is a racist. But it’s silly to ignore the existence of stuff we see in the tabloids daily.

As for whether the EU has kept peace in Europe: I’ve no idea, but your argument rings false to me. Firstly, I would have thought that we were a bigger power than France after WW2. Even more so: Russia. Even if not, your argument seems to add up to “War was prevented because France didn’t have anyone big enough to stand up to it”, which makes no sense.

JB @ 32:

“There is no democratic deficit in the EU, that is a bizarre myth. All EU decisions are approved by the Parliament (democratically elected) and Council of Ministers (representatives of democratically elected governments).”

But the EU parliament cannot initiate legislation: it can only query or rubber-stamp…

“Commissioners aren’t directly elected but rather chosen by members of the democratic institutions – in the same way as cabinet ministers are, in every country I can think of.”

Errr…No. In the UK, you have to be elected, or a member of the House of Lords, in order to be a Cabinet member. The majority of the UK cabinet is directly elected. None of the EU Commission has any democratic mandate…

And why has the EU’s internal auditors refused to sign off the EU’s accounts for 18 years?

Similar behaviour in a UK institution would have most lefties frothing…

36. RWingNeanderthal
37. KnightsoftheFarrightnuttertable

“Downvote all the positive comments, upvote all the negative ones:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2239042/Allowing-gay-couples-adopt-form-child-abuse-says-UKIP-election-candidate.html

WHAT THE FUCK? People cant have there own views now? The left are a disease, weak frail rotting disease.

@35 European Commissioners are civil servants. They are not elected in the same way as permanent secretaries in British ministries are not elected.

The British state has never had a set of accounts signed off in its history. At least the EU has a system of financial oversight and the auditors find things wrong.

I’m sure you know both those things. Do try to be honest.

40. Robin Levett

@TONE #35:

In the UK, you have to be elected, or a member of the House of Lords, in order to be a Cabinet member.

Even if this is technically correct (and I’m not sure it is), it is highly misleading.

Tell me where in Parliament Peter Mandelson sat when Brown decided to appoint him SoS for Business etc? And which seat did Frank Cousins hold when appointed Minister of Technology in 1964?

@35. TONE: “And why has the EU’s internal auditors refused to sign off the EU’s accounts for 18 years?”

I don’t know why it happened but it is a healthy signal to everyone — pro or anti — that the EU is expected to live up to high standards. The fact that the EU has failed so many times does not inform us about what went wrong. What went wrong is what we need to know — and politicians (pro and anti) aren’t telling us.

@18. Merrymaker: “First, a Norwegian or Swiss model which maintains the benefit of membership of the Single Market, but loosens other ties.”

That model would tie the UK into EEA membership rules without being a decision maker. It might be a model that some people seek; UK could become a member of a trading club which makes decisions with which UK government disagrees, but deny itself a place on the committee.

I think that it would be a politically expedient position to adopt. At best it would highlight the lazy thought in UKIP and elsewhere that EEA membership delivers a heavenly compromise.

42. Robin Levett

@TONE #35:

And why has the EU’s internal auditors refused to sign off the EU’s accounts for 18 years?

You presumably know, so why not explain? Include all the reasons, please; and also what the UK’s own Comptroller and Auditor General said he would do if asked to “sign-off” the UK’s accounts in the same way as the Court of Auditors is asked to sign off the EU accounts.

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld200506/ldselect/ldeucom/270/27010.htm

@ 34. Chaise Guevara

The thing I am on about is the reaction to the question over UK membership. Of course there is lots of anti-EU propaganda in what could be described as the rightwing press. I expect Telegraph commenters to rant on about EUSSR etc because their views about the UK relationship will not change even if an overwhelming majority vote to stay in during a referendum. They are the angry older white male syndrome sufferers. AOWMS perceive that they have lost status to women and minorities, that is what makes them angry in the first place. They react to the loss of status the same way chimps react when they lose status in their group. Lots of squawking and hollering.

I see that type of anti-EU propaganda that will always be with us as different to how what could broadly be called the left react to the question of membership. The Guardian in recent weeks has had a flood of EU editorials and columns and the reaction below the line is always the same. No positive case just smearing, scaremongering and dismissals of anyone who disagrees as some sort of crank. What is clear is there is deep dissatisfaction amongst voters of all political parties with regards to the UK EU relationship. The level of dissatisfaction means people can’t just be dismissed as Colonels Blimps nostalgic for the British Empire.

I see the UK Left making the exact same mistake they made with the eurozone around fifteen years ago. They did not appreciate the arguments against monetary union because the UK Left had stopped doing economics and adopted identity politics. As a consequence they did not understand the arguments and wrongly assumed that monetary union was a left right issue. If the UK Right was opposed they were in favour. They were completely ignorant that most of the arguments against monetary union were coming from economists on the US left. All the warnings about what would happen came true and now I read lefties making arguments about the EZ, that they dismissed as nationalist xenophobia fifteen years ago.

As to war in WE issue. What I mean is conflict in WE for the past two centuries essentially was in relation to Franco German tensions. Remove German access to oil except through the allies and even if Germany wanted to rearm they could not. As it was the new Germany was different and France had no interest in rekindling old animosities. The presence of US and British armies in Germany were an additional insurance.

Oh great, so now you cant even be for a sovereign nation, one of which countless have died to defend, and against a bunch of fucking idiots so thick that they would turn a currency union involving the lives and well being of millions into a case of “identity politics” without being diagnosed an angry older white male syndrome sufferers.

You people are disgusting.

45. Richard Carey

@ Chris,

“European Commissioners are civil servants. They are not elected in the same way as permanent secretaries in British ministries are not elected. ”

The comment makes me think about an interesting difference between the UK’s parliamentary system and another model, which you find in the US and Europe. In the UK the government is made up of people in Parliament, but this is not the case in the US, where the government is appointed by the head of state, and is not made up of congressmen or senators.

The EU Commissioners do not really compare to civil servants in the UK system, but rather appointed government ministers in the US or continental tradition.

Are people seriously making the claim that Jeremy Hunt’s election by the people of SW Surrey to be their MP gives his appointment by the leader of the majority coalition to be Health Secretary democratic legitimacy? That’s, erm, novel.

Commissioners are more like ministers than civil servants. They are advised and supported by civil servants who operate in a similar fashion to the UK – nothing to do with the political appointment based US system.

@ Richard 29

I’m undecided so would love that kind of cost benefit analysis produced.

However from the eurosceptic point of view you have one slight problem – I’m welsh. And we’ve had billions pumped into us by the eu by structural funds. Not to mention agriculture being a more important part of the welsh economy.

So the perspective if a purely cost benefit analysis is going to look very different from here than it will in the home counties.

And then we’ve got to take into account the fact the ukip types haven’t got the slightest intention of replacing these funds if they were the uk govt – indeed they think Wales is overfunded as it is.

So an undecided position can easily turn to a vote for Europe if your side isn’t mindful of regional variations

@ 44. Blah

I think you may have reading comprehension problems, Blah. I would have been totally opposed to monetary union for the right reasons i.e. it would not work and be certain to eventually cause a sudden capital stop impoverishing the weaker members.

Very interesting.
We’ve done some number crunching ourselves on the proposed ‘Tory UKIP pact’ – by our reckoning it makes a fair bit of sense to the Tories, but would be madness for UKIP.
Read on for our detailed analysis: http://www.allthatsleft.co.uk/2012/11/tory-ukip-pact-what-on-earth-is-in-it-for-ukip/

I don’t quite know where to start.

In the 1960s, joining the EEC was sold on the basis of gaining tariff free access for British manufactured products to a large and – importantly at that time – faster growing market than in Britain’s traditional ties in Commonwealth countries, although that was said quietly.

The Common Agricultural Policy was recognised as a burden but that was soothed by the prospect of EEC Regional Funds and the prospect of opening up the EEC market for services, in which Britain held and has strong competitive advantages. Of course, some were moved by the distant vision of ever closer European integration and ending the possibility of war between Germany and France.

In fact, NATO made that war virtually impossible and NATO also provided security for western Europe against the contingency of a Soviet blitzkrieg invasion.

Sure, the European Common Market was market orientated instead of being centrally planned – which is why the extreme left opposed joining – but the traditional European Social Market model – which pre-dates Britain’s welfare state – was dirigiste in spirit and provided the rationale for more generous welfare benefits than did Britain’s welfare state then or since. The EU really isn’t a “neoliberal” model, not with all those Social Chapter provisions in the Maastricht Treaty, the maternity benefits and the statutory restrictions on the permitted maximum hours in a working week.

I don’t buy the beguiling notion that if Britain leaves the EU then we will have the same trade access to the EU as Norway and Switzerland, both relatively small countries compared with Britain.

For starters, neither of those countries has a motor industry, including motor components, whereas Britain has and there are powerful motives among mainland motor manufacturers to reduce competition in a market burdened with an overhang of excess capacity. The Japanese car manufacturers with plants in Britain have very decided views on the advantages of access to European markets.

Another sensitive area is trade in financial services, in which Britain has global competitive advantages to the envy of Frankfurt and Paris.

Britain is the second largest exporter of services after America, while the extent to which financial and professional services are covered by the existing provisions of the Single European Market are still incomplete. There is much still to negotiate and it’s unwise to believe that the civil servants of other EU governments are less astute or competent than our own.

Btw it was elected politicians who screwed up the creation of European Monetary Union (EMU) in their zeal to force the pace of European integration, not EU Commission officials. On the eligibility criteria for joining EMU in the Maastricht Treaty, only Luxembourg was eligible to join at the launch of the Euro in 2000. As John Major reported, when it came to the negotiations as to whether Greece might join EMU, it was (seriously) said that the country of Plato couldn’t be left out.

Hunt’s legitimacy as Health Secretary comes from his appointment by Cameron. An EU commissioner’s legitimacy comes from her appointment by the Council – ie by the democratically elected governments of EU states.

The UK PM is held to account by parliament, which can pass a no confidence motion forcing the government to resign. The Commission is held to account by parliament, which can pass a motion forcing the Commission to resign. The latter has happened much more recently than the former (1999).

Only the executive can initiate legislation in both systems, but that is true by law in the EU and only in practice in the UK (when was the last time a private members’ bill of any importance passed without Cabinet support?)

52. Richard Carey

@ Planeshift,

I reckon both sides can spin a cost/benefit analysis, so you will still need to decide for yourself, having weighed the evidence. It’s true that certain regions will have benefited from EU-badged money, but these funds have not changed the UK from being a net-contributor, and I think that money received from such funds reduces the rebate, so we’re really getting our own money back with extra strings attached. There will also be grey area around how much various regulations cost and such like, which, the same as other info, you will have to decide what to believe, there being in all likelihood two versions of every fact.

@ 47. Planeshift

Even on its own terms the supposed distribution of EU funds to poorer areas does not do what it claims. See this from a couple of years ago.

” Of the 37 regions in Britain under the EU’s classification system, 35 are net contributors to the structural funds, with only West Wales and Cornwall net beneficiaries. This means that some relatively poor areas lose out substantially. For example, we estimate that the West Midlands, which has the lowest disposable income per capita in the UK, pays £3.55 to the structural funds for every £1 it gets back. Merseyside, which has a disposable income of 88% of the UK average, pays in £2.88 for every £1 it gets back. All the regions in the North East pay in more than they get back, as does Northern Ireland (£1.58 for every £1 it gets back). All sub-regions in Scotland are likewise net losers from the structural funds. I’ve separately attached a table showing payments and receipts for each one of the UK’s 37 NUTS II regions.

Some regions that are under the UK average for disposable income per capita pay far higher contribution ratios than those above the average; for example Devon (94% of the average) pays £6.58 for every £1 it gets back, while Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire (105% of the average) pays £4.49. ”

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201012/cmselect/cmcomloc/writev/erdf/erdf45.htm

Lynne at # 23:

‘Yes, we voted to stay in the EU, so why do we need another vote.’

This vote was irreversible? Although it was a long time ago, I don’t recall seeing that on the ballot paper

‘Even though i have some reservations about the EU, i still think we are better off in than out.’

This is, I think, a lot of people’s feeling about it, and as life outwith the EU could be very cold indeed, there is little about the EU that actually makes the average bloke in the street be enthusiastic about it.

Any politico-economic organisation that likes to posture as ultra-democratic and civilised and which punishes a wayward member by waging economic warfare upon it, as the EU is doing to Greece, with all the ensuing human misery, can hardly be seen by any thinking person as particularly worthy.

If the EU has a bad image, which indeed it has, it is itself as much to blame for it as are the anti-EU media and the UKIP types with their scare stories.

Haven’t EU regional funds been largely diverted towards the recently joined states in eastern Europe, which will still be there around the EU negotiating table if Britain decides to leave?

“I think you may have reading comprehension problems, Blah.”

Na, I am sick of utter bullshit, why dont you stick with what you know instead of trying to diognose people with utter crap thought up by some pompus academuic twat, I do how ever find it amusing how casually ” oh the left stopped with economics ” is thrown around, what the Fuck.

You insane bastards.

RW: worth noting that’s from a staunchly anti-EU organisation (*), so – given that costs and benefits are extremely easy to spin, as you agree above – it should not be taken as evidence that “on its own terms the supposed distribution of EU funds to poorer areas does not do what it claims“, but rather that on its most stringent opponents’ terms it doesn’t do what it claims.

Blah: in short, because “pompus academuic twat”s have read the evidence and understand what they’re talking about, rather than spouting ignorant bollocks based on prejudice.

(*) term used advisedly. Open Europe are, at least publicly, in favour of European integration in which Britain plays a role, but opposed to almost everything about the current EU setup – hence I’m correctly referring to them as anti-EU, as opposed to UKIP who are anti-Europe.

Ah! The pompus academic twats understand what there on about, which lot would that be? The ones who tried to run one of the biggest economic areas in the world based on something other than economics or the creators of angry white man syndrome, strange that we dont have “angry black man syndrome” or perhaps ” angry older women bitch syndrome”
they perceive that they have lost status to younger women because they have wrinkles and there breasts have sagged, that is what makes them angry in the first place, they react to the loss of status the same way chimps react when they lose status in their group, lots of squawking and hollering.

As for whether the EU has kept peace in Europe: I’ve no idea, but your argument rings false to me.

Well apart from anything else, the EU hasn’t kept peace in Europe. The break-up of Yugoslavia would tend to disprove this, as would the Troubles I suppose.

The two things that have prevented a continent-wide conflagration were the destruction of Germany in 1945 and the NATO/Warsaw Pact stand-off. There’s an argument that the EU has assisted Germany back into a role as a fully fledged member of the society of nations, but their capacity to wage war wasn’t destroyed by Robert Schumann or Jean Monnet.

Tim J: the 20 years from 1919-1939 don’t seem to be your friend here. Germany was destroyed and immiserated in 1919 – but for various reasons to do with culture, human capital and industrial capital, Germany is good at bouncing back.

On the other hand, 20 years after World Defeat II, West Germany in 1965 was again an industrial economy with enormous industrial capacity – but also a thriving democracy, because it was economically and politically integrated into the Nice & Jolly World where it could sell us Volkswagens and we weren’t mugging it for every last mark in reparations.

People can pretend the ECSC/EEC/EU has nothing to do with that; people can pretend NATO has nothing to do with that. People who do either are grossly misrepresenting what actually happened.

(and suggesting that the Troubles count as war is gibbering nonsense. Yugoslavia, yes.)

62. Robin Levett

@Tim J #59:

<blockquote.Well apart from anything else, the EU hasn’t kept peace in Europe. The break-up of Yugoslavia would tend to disprove this.

I’m sorry, but that is historically illiterate to the point of dyslexia. For a couple of centuries, instability in the Balkans has threatened Europe-wide war, and has been the spark for a world war. The idea that Yugoslavia could break up without Germany, Russia and Turkey getting into a hot war over who gets which piece is in that context a novel concept.

(and suggesting that the Troubles count as war is gibbering nonsense. Yugoslavia, yes.)

I don’t know, it was a counter-insurgency operation involving a 40 year deployment of troops in an EU member state. It’s not war, but it’s an absence of peace surely?

62 – you don’t think that the strategic decline of Russia and Turkey may have more to do with that than the EU?

The problem is that “peace in Europe” is a pretty nebulous claim. Does the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia count? The fascist coup in Greece? They happened in Europe, after the foundation of the EEC. If all the claim is is “no war between EU Member States” then we’re really back to stopping Germany from invading France.

64. Robin Levett

@ Tim J #63:

The claim is scarcely nebulous. There has been no European war since 1945. There have been civil wars of various kinds; but none of them have escalated into European wars in the way they would have before 1945. The establishment of (Western) European unity within the EU and NATO has prevented that happening.

“WHAT THE FUCK? People cant have there own views now? The left are a disease, weak frail rotting disease”.

Apparently not, if it disagrees with yours, you damaged little prick.

Any one who believes Germany or another mass war would have taken place in Europe without the EU is an Idiot, yet even if you are right, and what??

What relevance does this have to the UK staying in the EU:

” The EU has stopped war, its a positive Britiain must remain a memember ”

So the day Britian leaves its going to be over taken by nazis out to create the next war? Or will the rest of Europe attack Britian???

The issue has no bearing what so ever, good or bad, concerning the future of UK membership. Stop scrapping the gutter looking for your crap backing.

Robin: “The establishment of (Western) European unity within the EU and NATO has prevented that happening.”

NATO, more than the EU, has prevented wars in Europe since the devastation of WW2. Besides, Germany doesn’t have much of an armaments industry – unlike BAE Systems in Britain, our second largest manufacturing company – and the German army has been notoriously reluctant to fight in Afghanistan under a NATO banner.

IMO not having an armaments industry has been a great commercial boon to Germany as its national engineering and electrical/electronics companies have had to learn to compete against international commercial rivals instead of being shielded by the soft and often murky markets for selling armaments to government organisations.

“Apparently not, if it disagrees with yours, you damaged little prick.”

Yea because im the one here quoting news articles telling people to downvote all the positive comments and upvote all the negative, you see im such a leftist weak bastard I cant stand people having an opinion that differs to mine even in the comment section of a newspaper.

Oh im so damaged, QUICK!!! theres something wrong in the comments section!!!!!!!! Scum.

69. Robin Levett

@Bob B #67;

<blockquote.Besides, Germany doesn’t have much of an armaments industry

Leopard.

70. Robin Levett

@Bob B #67 (further to #69):

More generally – see:

http://armstrade.sipri.org/armstrade/html/export_toplist.php

Pretty decent arms exports (3rd after USA and Russia since 1990) for a country with no arms industry.

67. Bob B

” Besides, Germany doesn’t have much of an armaments industry ”

One can only say WTF?

Germany has a huge arms industry. They are the third largest exporters of arms in volume cash terms in the world. Even if we look at it in per capita terms they export more arms than the UK. Although in volume per capita peace-loving non-aligned Sweden probably exports more arms than anyone.
http://www.spiegel.de/international/germany/a-new-arms-race-exports-booming-for-german-weapons-manufacturers-a-773626.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arms_industry#World.27s_largest_arms_exporters

72. margin4error

Damon

I see your point – though they may wonder why they have to be in a union with countries so far west of them (like Ireland). And I guess if it makes for a bigger market for our firms, our government will continue to think it’s a good thing (the UK has generally pushed harder than other western nations to expand eastwards to places like Turkey and the Balkans for that reason).

And yes, I guess if Belarus and Ukraine grew into functioning market economies and democracies, they would be eligible to join. One could hardly argue they are not European. (Morocco on the other hand was rejected when it applied for membership on grounds of geograph – the only country to be rejected on that basis).

69 Robin: “Leopard”

I know about the German Leopard tank but that is about the extent of the German armaments industry.

Compared with the size and international scope of BAE Systems operations, Britain’s second largest manufacturing company after Tata Manufacturing as well as BAE plants in America and its America contracts, the German armaments industry is miniscule. Britain – to our shame IMO – is in the top half-dozen of armament exporting countries.

As WW2 showed after the Normandy invasion, tanks without air superiority aren’t much use. The unlamented Soviet army was reckoned to have lots of tanks and fairly good ones at that compared with other tanks but the tanks weren’t of much use in the Soviet’s asymmetric, fourth generation war in Afghanistan. A tank, which can cost USD60m to over USD100m each (really), can be taken out with relatively low-cost shoulder-launched guided missiles carried and fired by one soldier.

I reckon Germany designed and makes the Leopard tanks out of a misguided nostalgia for the Panzer tanks of WW2 – forgetting that the Germany army lost the crucial battle of Kursk in the winter of 1942/3, the biggest tank battle of WW2. But that in no way conflicts with my belief that German engineering and electrical/electronic companies have gained from having to compete in international markets with foreign rivals instead of being cushioned by the soft markets for armaments with government organisations.

At home, the MOD is pressed to buy British. Abroad, the markets are very murky and it has been a long haul to rein back corrupt practices. Try these news reports:

Tony Blair’s personal role as prime minister in halting the Saudi arms sale bribery investigation is revealed in court documents which the Guardian is publishing in full on its website. [Guardian 2007]
http://www.guardian.co.uk/baefiles/story/0,,2231496,00.html

“Years of bribery investigations into BAE Systems by the Serious Fraud Office were brought to a close today, when the company was fined after pleading guilty to failing to keep proper accounting records in Tanzania. Here is a timeline of investigations of the defence company: ” [Telegraph website December 2010]

74. Robin Levett

@Bob B #72:

Britain – to our shame IMO – is in the top half-dozen of armament exporting countries.

And Germany is 3rd. See the SIPRI link in my post above.

73: “And Germany is 3rd. See the SIPRI link in my post above.”

Germany isn’t 3rd in the Wikipedia league table for arms exports and German ascendancy in the arms exporting league table is very recent compared with Britain’s ranking up there near the top for decades on end. It’s also a question of what the arms exports consist of – Germany has the largest motor manufacturing industry in Europe by a comfortable margin. Britain would have done far better to nurture a national engineering industry than an armaments industry.

When Weinstock ran GEC in Britain – the ancestor of BAE Systems – he would famously locate doubtful MOD projects in or near marginal constituencies, preferably in plants which also qualified for regional assistance, and tweak news reports whenever byelections or elections loomed.

MPs would rally round to hound the government of the day into continuing to support often lame projects. Weinstock was a smart guy and knew just how to do this. Ever wonder why the missiles used for delivering Britain’s nuclear deterrent have been American made since the 1960s – whereas the French, the Soviets, China and Iran etc all manage(d) to make their own missiles? And then there was the long running challenging saga of why Britian’s naval torpedoes suffered from “an ingress of water” (quoting) and sank before reaching their intended targets.

Both sides of the camp are wrong on this one I think. The pro-EU group are sticking their heads in the sand over the damaging effects the Brussels superpower is now wielding, the anti-EU group are simply yelling for an exit without considering enough of the details.

Boris was absolutely right to say that this is not just as simple as in/out. There are a lot of considerations to make and some sacrifices that will have to be made as well. I think its important that a lot more of the country understand what will happen either way, and that more of a debate is had over the issues.

On another matter. Sunny. “I suspect highly low”…What???

Certainly looks 3rd to my eyes. You know Bob when you say something blatantly wrong it is probably better just admitting that you were wrong. Furiously trying to spin with unrelated stuff that you were somehow right is just silly. Calling the German arms industry miniscule is so wrong that it is lightyears away from being right.

2010
1 United States 8641
2 Russia 6039
3 Germany 2340
4 France 1834
5 China 1423
6 United Kingdom 1054
7 Italy 806
8 Sweden 627
9 Spain 513
10 Israel 503
11 Canada 258
12 Ukraine 201
13 Switzerland 137
14 South Korea 95

Richard W

In the Wikipedia entry for the several international leagues of Defence Budgets and Arms Exports, the ascendancy of Germany in arms exporting IS very recent, as can be confirmed just by looking at the armament exporting league table in this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arms_industry

Two factors relate. The extent to which “arms exports” are taken to include military motor vehicles, when Germany has the largest motor industry in Europe by a comfortable margin.

Secondly, Germany has a huge trade surplus because German products have become more competitive in international markets as the Euro has been depressed in foreign exchange markets because of troubled Eurozone countries like Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain, with their trade deficits.

Instead of attempting to score silly personal points over German ascendancy in the arms expoprting league table in the last few years, it would be more constructive to focus on why Germany has such robust and flourishing engineering and electrical/electronics companies compared with Britain.

What happened with Britain’s industrial policy? How come BAE Systems is Britain’s second largest manufacturing company after Tata Manufacturing, which has only recently overtaken BAE Systems?

Yes Bob I posted that link 3 hours at ago @ 71.

Nobody is speaking about the size of their defence budget or trade surplus.

You said:

” Besides, Germany doesn’t have much of an armaments industry ”

Which is blatantly incorrect. You know there is no shame in getting something wrong.

Richard W

“Besides, Germany doesn’t have much of an armaments industry ” – Which is blatantly incorrect. You know there is no shame in getting something wrong.

Which ignors: (a) how much of Germany’s arms exports, which are being used to index the size of Germany’s armaments industry here, comprise motor vehicles when Germany has the largest motor industry in Europe by a margin? (b) Germany’s rise up the arms export league is only over the last few years – before which Germany was a relatively small league player – as the Wikepedia arms exporting table shows; (c) why Britain ranked so high in the arms export league for so long? (d) how come BAE systems was Britain’s largest manufacturing company until a few months ago? (e) why Germany, but not Britain, has a collection of robust and flourishing engineering and electrical/electronic companies?

Germany has recently shot up the arms exporting league so it make sense to inquire why and consider the implications?

By the back pages in The Economist, over the last 12 months, Germany had a bigger trade surplus than China: USD 237.2bn versus USD 212bn. Germany’s current account surplus amounted to 5.7pc of Germany’s national GDP as compared with only 2.6pc for China.

These are startling comparisons when the US government and the Republicans in America have repeatedly accused China’s government of being a “currency manipulator”.

81. Robin Levett

@Bob B #75:

You are arguing that Wikipedia (i) says something different to what we can read and (ii) is more accurate than SIPRI? Really? When Wikipedia expressly references SIPRI?

I’ve realised that the SIPRI page doesn’t retain my choices of parameter – so go yourself to the page at:

http://www.sipri.org/databases/armstransfers

and generate toplist tables to your heart’s content (link at bottom of page).

On arms sales over the past 21 years – ie since 1990, when it united – it has been third in the table, beating our sales by roughly 10%. In 1990, it was 4th (a hair behind us), up from 5th the previous year. Between 1970 and 1990, it was 5th, with 70% of our sales. It is only before 1960 that your claim that Germany was “only a small-league player” has any credibility.

These are not “silly personal points”. Your thesis was that:

IMO not having an armaments industry has been a great commercial boon to Germany as its national engineering and electrical/electronics companies have had to learn to compete against international commercial rivals instead of being shielded by the soft and often murky markets for selling armaments to government organisations

Perhaps you could gracefully accept that you were wrong on that before we go on to consider the other issues you raise?

Perhaps you could answer the question what the hell has this got to do with britain staying in the eu? oh no you cant can you, your a dillusional denialist.

Robin,

I’m only partly wrong in that according the the table in Wikipedia, UK arms exports were greater than those of Germany in 2001, 2002, and 2004. German arms exports have been larger since then. Germany has only issued national reports on arms exports since 1999 according to SIPRI (as compared with 1996 for the UK), so we have question marks about any estimates of earlier values and about the composition of arms exports.

This illuminates changes in the composition of German arms exports – towards manufactured “small arms”, where weapons design and precision engineered parts are critical factors, factors also critical in the manufacture of machine tools and vehicle parts.
http://www.dw.de/germany-permits-more-arms-exports/a-16378885

Perhaps governments around the world are learning that a lot of heavy weaponry isn’t of much use in fighting asymmetrical, fourth generation wars

The post-war settlement prevented Germany and Japan from developing indigenous arms industries for decades so their engineering and electrical/electronic companies were obliged to meet the competitive challenges of commercial markets, not the soft and murky markets of arms sales. In the case of Japan, internal political pressures kept the size of Japan’s defence budget to less than 1pc of Japan’s GDP at least to the end of the 1980s.

Blah: “Perhaps you could answer the question what the hell has this got to do with britain staying in the eu? oh no you cant can you, your a dillusional denialist.”

That’s very pertinent and timely question. The figures on Germany’s trading surplus on my post @80 are highly relevant to the state of the Eurozone economy and the larger EU because of that.

This is the reason:

“Prof Paul de Grauwe from the London School of Economics (LSE) said austerity measures imposed on the Club Med with no offsetting stimulus by the creditors was creating a contractionary bias to the whole system and and leading to a ‘very dangerous situation’. ”
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financialcrisis/9681868/1930s-medicine-pushes-Europe-back-into-double-dip-recession.html

Germany’s vast trading surplus exerts deflationary pressures on its trading partners, which Eurozone governments with competitiveness issues have been trying to offset by running budget deficits. But the German government and public opinion in Germany insist that budget deficits are bad (because they don’t understand Keynesian economics) and must be ended by austerity measures.

The trouble in this thread is that some here get more excited about proving me wrong over German arms exports than about focusing on EU economic issues.

85. Richard Carey

Freeman,

“Boris was absolutely right to say that this is not just as simple as in/out. ”

I’d say Boris is showing he’s a cynical politician, by saying one thing at one time, and toeing the party line when he needs to.

The issue is very complicated in some ways, and those people who are serious about leaving are indeed spending their energy on laying out the case for leaving, the implications and the method for doing it, i.e., Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty.

You don’t find such a discussion amongst the Tory sceptic herd, nor UKIP most of the time, nor the mainline media, but it is going on. Those who are serious about leaving know as well as our enemies that a referendum could go either way, and that it will not be our side (pro independence) who get to write the question and choose the time. For this reason I goad Europhiles that if they weren’t so gutless, they’d hold the referendum and probably win.

This by Prof Tim Congdon lays out the potential estimated economic benefits to Britain from leaving the EU:
http://www.timcongdon4ukip.com/docs/UKIP%20Cost%20of%20the%20EU.pdf

We can be pretty sure that something like those estimates would feature in UKIP’s referendum campaign.

We all know why so many British people are anti-EU. We won’t say it, but we know.

Chris: “We all know why so many British people are anti-EU. We won’t say it, but we know.”

Absolutely. Nicholas Ridley was forced to resign as DTI minister in July 1990 after giving an interview to the Spectator in which he said about the EU:

“This is all a German racket designed to take over the whole of Europe. It has to be thwarted. This rushed take-over by the Germans on the worst possible basis, with the French behaving like poodles to the Germans, is absolutely intolerable.”
http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/ADF066927DB5403D9B70493E2B465BFF.pdf

Come the following October, John Major, as Chancellor, joined the Pound up to the European Exchange Rate Mechanism (ERM). In September 1992, the Pound was forced out of the ERM by international speculation in the foreign exchange markets. There was controversy at the time between the British government and the German Bundesbank over the extent to which the Bundesbank had failed to adequately support the Pound:

“The Bundesbank was accused of leaking to the press a confidential statement to the British government by Helmut Schlesinger, president of the German central bank. It rebutted Britain’s claims that it had been largely to blame for the run on the pound which forced sterling out of the ERM. The Bundesbank said that it had fulfilled completely its obligations under the ERM and spent the larger part of DM44bn (pounds17.5bn) on defending the pound when it was pinned to its floor.” [Independent, 1 October 1992]

For a more detailed history of events at the time, try the Wikipedia entry for: Black Wednesday. In retrospect, Nicholas Ridley’s comment in the Spectator seems prescient.

For more about the Bundesbank and the events leading up to the Pound being forced out of the ERM in September 1992 by speculation, try this account in the neutral NYT:
http://www.nytimes.com/1993/10/17/magazine/blaming-the-bundesbank.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm

The more I reflect on this, the more I think that Nicholas Ridley was onto something and had to resign for saying it.

Richard: what’s your point w.r.t Article 50? It creates an absolute right for any EU member to leave (either on terms agreed with other member states by QMV, or by default two years after notice is given if the parties are unable to agree terms).

Article 50’s only relevance to the referendum debate is that it allows the Kippers to say “don’t worry, Article 50 of the Lisbon treaty explains the process under which we can leave, and it’s straightforward in constitutional terms” (if not in terms of economic consequences…).

“The trouble in this thread is that some here get more excited about proving me wrong over German arms exports than about focusing on EU economic issues.”

Yes, they seem willing to debate anything other than the reasons for the UK staying in, they are dillusional denalists to the point they claim this was never said:

” The EU commission will eventually become a government, the council of member states an “upper chamber” and the European Parliament more powerful, but fixing the eurozone problems is more urgent for now, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told MEPs on Wednesday (7 November). “

I am a progressive liberal, used to stand among the Europhiles, and have joined the long list of Eurosceptics for a while. The forced second Irish referendum was an eye-opener. The long-lasting (or never-ending?) eurozone crisis came as the last straw.
Sharing my time between London and a few places on the continent (I’m always about to write “in Europe”, which must means something), I have to say that the supposed benefits of the EU -and the euro- are decreasing by the day. Not only in Britain, but across the whole EU. This only could justify a British exit that wouldn’t necessarily be detrimental, provided it is not about shrinking back to nationalistic Little England (and there’s a smell of it).
The list of cons now outweigh the pros, and by far, depending on the situations.
It would be too long to elaborate here (you can find more at http://www.mikeconomics.net and in some chapters of my forthcoming book: http://www.searchingfinance.com/products/books-econ-politics-finance/mike-guillame-the-7-deadly-sins-of-capitalism.html).
I’ll cut it short.
Eurocracy has become a huge non-accountable bureaucracy that serves its own interests -and bankers’ ones. It’s hard to understand why the Lib Dems can hang on to Europhilia with such a non-democratic political system.
The euro is a mess, which has hardly been properly reported in macroeconomic figures (where’s inflation when most prices shot up). Imagine one second Britain having been part of it! Well, in this event, a referendum would probably have already taken place!
Europe as a bloc that rivals with the US, China and India may be the view of Eurofederalists (like a majority of MEPs), it’s too slow too late anyway. Or people simply don’t buy it any more. A number of “small” countries and economies perform much better economically -and socially- than the EU. Take Norway, Sweden, Singapore, Switzerland, Canada… Big is not (always) beautiful. These models should inspire the UK.
The EU labour market (the American way) is a non-kept promise. Ask the massive ranks of unemployed youth, who cannot get opportunities by travelling elsewhere.
Inequalities between richest and poorest regions in EU remain similar to the US, despite billions spent on “cohesion” funds.
And so on…
Should Britain stay or should it go then?

93. Robin Levett

@Bob B #83:

First, let’s get this out of the way:

The trouble in this thread is that some here get more excited about proving me wrong over German arms exports than about focusing on EU economic issues.

Some here regard an argument based upon a false premise as likely to be a flawed argument. If you are going to nmake an argument that Germany’s economic success was based upon its not being involved in the arms trade to any significant extent, then the fact that Germany has been a major player in the arms trade for decades is relevant to, and indeed destroys, the argument.

I’m only partly wrong in that according the the table in Wikipedia, UK arms exports were greater than those of Germany in 2001, 2002, and 2004. German arms exports have been larger since then. Germany has only issued national reports on arms exports since 1999 according to SIPRI (as compared with 1996 for the UK), so we have question marks about any estimates of earlier values and about the composition of arms exports.

“Oh, no, my Lord, I assure you that parts of it are excellent”…

You are wrong completely. The fact that in individual years Germany hasn’t exported as many major conventional weapons as the UK does not stop it being a major player in the arms trade.

This illuminates changes in the composition of German arms exports – towards manufactured “small arms”, where weapons design and precision engineered parts are critical factors, factors also critical in the manufacture of machine tools and vehicle parts.
http://www.dw.de/germany-permits-more-arms-exports/a-16378885

Perhaps governments around the world are learning that a lot of heavy weaponry isn’t of much use in fighting asymmetrical, fourth generation wars

But the SIPRI figures are precisely of “major covnentional weapons”; they don’t include small arms and light weapons. See page 10 of this report:

http://unidir.org/pdf/activites/pdf12-act431.pdf

<blockquote.Since the mid-1990s global attention has become increasingly focused on transfers of SALW, which have come to be regarded as the type of conventional weapon that can cause the most instability in a country or region.

Governmental transparency in international transfers of SALW continues to lag behind transparency levels for other types of conventional weapon transfers, although advances have been made in recent years. For example, in December 2003 the UN General Assembly invited member states to provide information on SALW transfers to the UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA), which had previously covered only major conventional weapons, and in 2006 states were invited to do so using a standardized
reporting form.

Table 5 at the top of the page is illuminating in view of your claim that manufacture of small arms puts a premium on machine-tooling skills. The significant exporters of SALW in 2007 were Croatia (29%), Italy (20%), the UK (11%), Ukraine (7%) and Romania (5%); the percentages being of the exports reported.

The post-war settlement prevented Germany and Japan from developing indigenous arms industries for decades so their engineering and electrical/electronic companies were obliged to meet the competitive challenges of commercial markets, not the soft and murky markets of arms sales.

Taking 5 year periods (because arms deals are often multi-year deals) Germany was in the top 10 arms exporters from 1959-1963 onwards.

Face it – your argument doesn’t wash.

94. Robin Levett

@Bob B #73:

Sorry, I missed this and couldn’t resist:

I know about the German Leopard tank but that is about the extent of the German armaments industry.

…and the choppers, and the fighters, and the subs, and the…

Germany is in third place among the world’s biggest weapons suppliers, behind only the big guns of Russia and the United States and in front of France and Great Britain. Its arms are coveted around the world: tanks from Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall; submarines from ThyssenKrupp; fighter jets, helicopters and drones from EADS; missiles and munitions from Diehl; rifles from Heckler & Koch; torpedoes from Atlas Elektronik; and telescopic sights from Carl Zeiss.

Germany is in third place among the world’s biggest weapons suppliers, behind only the big guns of Russia and the United States and in front of France and Great Britain. Its arms are coveted around the world: tanks from Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall; submarines from ThyssenKrupp; fighter jets, helicopters and drones from EADS; missiles and munitions from Diehl; rifles from Heckler & Koch; torpedoes from Atlas Elektronik; and telescopic sights from Carl Zeiss.

From the Spiegel article referenced by Richard W at #71.

If you don’t know anything about the German arms industry – and you clearly don’t – how can your conclusions about the development of German industry based upon your assumption that they don’t have much of one be correct?

Even in the 1950s, the German Government was thinking in terms of maintaining (long term) a capability to manufacture its own heavy weapons – that (and disputes with the French) is why the Leopard even came into being.

95. Richard Carey

@ 92 Mike,

good to have you on board the freedom train.

@ John 90,

“Richard: what’s your point w.r.t Article 50?”

I was just pointing the way to the exit. The issue of holding a referendum is, I think, something of a red herring. Rather than spending a lot of energy on calling for a referendum, I think it would be better for those in favour of independence to start laying out what kind of settlement we want to have with the EU when we leave.

German Finance Minister: “No country is gaining more from being part of the European Union than Germany.” (on http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/nov/30/eurozone-crisis-german-parliament-greece-unemployment).
That says it all.

Do you really think with an anti european press, a public who are disallusioned with politics, EEC incompetancy and good old fashioned hatred of Jonny Foreigner the pro europeans would win.
Also there are many lefties who don’t like the EEC.
The SDP 4 left the labour party not because of clause 4, or CND but antagonism towards Europe. Two of the big beasts against the EEC were Peter shore and Tony Benn

“good to have you on board the freedom train.”
That is so sad.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Alex Braithwaite

    Poll shows pro-Europeans could win an EU referendum | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/XKzq9Ms5 via @libcon

  2. Sunny Hundal

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  3. Emilia Hinkkanen

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  6. Peter Underwood

    My blog today > Poll shows (how) pro-Europeans could win an EU referendum http://t.co/VGrEalP3

  7. Le Taurillon

    Selon un récent sondage, 71% des 18-34 veulent que la GB restent dans l'UE http://t.co/F8rXKNcd

  8. ME-F

    Selon un récent sondage, 71% des 18-34 veulent que la GB restent dans l'UE http://t.co/F8rXKNcd

  9. Vasilis Dalianis

    RT @Taurillon Selon un récent sondage, 71% des 18-34 veulent que la GB restent dans l'UE http://t.co/exEoLCQD

  10. Piet Polderman

    And what if Europeans held a referendum on the UK? RT @libcon: Poll shows pro-Europeans could win an EU referendum http://t.co/ct2jvU3Q

  11. Philip C James

    My blog today > Poll shows (how) pro-Europeans could win an EU referendum http://t.co/VGrEalP3

  12. Arun Mehta

    ConRes Poll shows pro-Europeans could win an EU referendum. http://t.co/Ktv6mL7V via @libcon

  13. Valéry-Xavier Lentz

    Selon un récent sondage, 71% des 18-34 veulent que la GB restent dans l'UE http://t.co/F8rXKNcd

  14. Eric Bonse

    Selon un récent sondage, 71% des 18-34 veulent que la GB restent dans l'UE http://t.co/F8rXKNcd

  15. Cay-Eric Schimanski

    Selon un récent sondage, 71% des 18-34 veulent que la GB restent dans l'UE http://t.co/F8rXKNcd

  16. Dominique Reynie

    Selon un récent sondage, 71% des 18-34 veulent que la GB restent dans l'UE http://t.co/F8rXKNcd

  17. nicholas z

    Bonne nouvelle RT @taurillon: Selon un récent sondage, 71% des 18-34 veulent que la GB restent dans l'UE http://t.co/cUaTO2om

  18. Gilles JOHNSON

    Selon un récent sondage, 71% des 18-34 veulent que la GB restent dans l'UE http://t.co/F8rXKNcd

  19. Antoni Rybaczyk

    Selon un récent sondage, 71% des 18-34 veulent que la GB restent dans l'UE http://t.co/F8rXKNcd

  20. Fabien CHEVALIER

    Selon un récent sondage, 71% des 18-34 veulent que la GB restent dans l'UE http://t.co/F8rXKNcd

  21. Philippe Ray

    #UK Poll shows pro-Europeans could win an #EU referendum : 71% aged 18-34 want to stay http://t.co/CYgeQ1IA

  22. Franck Sottou Europe

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  23. Simon Blackley

    RT @PhilippeRay: #UK poll shows pro-Europeans could win #EU referendum: 71% aged 18-34 want to stay http://t.co/2rqW2KNb





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